October 21, 2020
Denise, Practice Principal shares her experience of common thoughts patients living with back pain have when they first attend an appointment. Over the last 16 years Denise has treated thousands of patients with bad backs.
“Over 60% of our patients make their initial appointment due to back pain. Along with assessing and treating this we spend a lot of the initial assessment correcting myths and negative thoughts. This ensures we can make the positive steps forward to returning to your life pain free.
This seems like a reasonable assumption, “the harder I stub my toe the more it hurts”! However, when it comes to mechanical back pain all our preconceptions regarding pain are challenged. Medically we consider mechanical low back pain to often be a useless pain. It serves no real function other than to make life miserable for almost 6 million people in the UK. It is very rarely caused by any structural damage to the spine. In fact, many people experience pain in their back despite having a completely clear scan or x-ray.
If you injure a joint or a muscle it is common to be told to rest, elevate, ice and compress the area. It was not that long ago we encouraged people with “lumbago” to take to their beds. We now know that inactivity and bedrest can significantly exacerbate back pain. The latest medical advice focuses on prescribing movement and cardiovascular fitness for the management of back pain.
“Slipped” discs are normal, 30% of people who DON’T have back pain back HAVE “slipped” discs on MRI scans. Discs are not a recognised source of pain. If the disc bulge is very large it can sometimes touch a spinal nerve root as they emerge from the spine potentially causing pain to be felt in the leg.
This is a common request and our answer is always the same; scans will not show your pain! MRIs are used to identify any clinically significant abnormalities. They are almost entirely useless in helping diagnose the cause of mechanical back pain though.
The best way to get answers about is to sit in front of an expert Physiotherapist who specialises in back pain. They will listen carefully to your symptoms and perform an assessment to help guide you with what the most likely causes are. Then provide you with the options to deal with your troubles. Part of the assessment will be spent identifying if you have any of the rare “red flags”. These are signs and symptoms that require urgent further investigation. You will be referred for these straight away if necessary.
We often find patients write themselves off from being able to improve their activity or symptoms due to age. When it comes to back pain the good news is the back is designed to move, it loves movement! Improving core strength and cardiovascular fitness is proven to help reduce symptoms. It also increases your overall exercise tolerance – win win!
If you are suffering with your back and are keen to find out how to get rid of it, email Kesson Physio. firstname.lastname@example.org and request your FREE copy of Denise’s Top Tips for Tackling Back Pain.
If you are keen to Move Better and Live Better click to find out how our Fitness Classes can help you get back into exercise whist being closely monitored by our expert therapists.